Keeping Your Horse Calm: A Guide to Calming Supplements and Management

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a group of horses standing in a fenced in field

All horse owners want their horses to feel relaxed, comfortable, and calm. However, anxiety is a common issue in horses that can negatively impact performance, behavior, and overall well-being. Understanding the underlying causes of equine anxiety and utilizing thoughtful management strategies and targeted nutraceutical support can help horse owners promote lasting calmness.

Understanding the Causes of Anxiety in Horses

Stress is an inevitable part of a horse's life. From changes in environment and routine to physical discomfort, pressure from training and performance demands, and social conflicts in the herd, horses must cope with various triggers. While an appropriate stress level is normal and even healthy, chronic or extreme stress takes a major toll.

Before exploring solutions, horse owners must do research on calming supplements and identify potential triggers contributing to undesirable stress responses in their horses. Some of the most common causes include:

New Environments or Experiences

When horses travel to new barns, events, and trails, they are hardwired to regard change and unfamiliar settings as potential threats. The novelty challenges their confidence, triggers the fight-or-flight response, and causes heightened reactions. These responses are healthy to a degree but problematic in excess.

Pain or Discomfort

Just as pain, chronic inflammation, and physical discomfort lead to irritability and impaired coping abilities in humans, horses likewise experience mounting distress when not feeling their best. Small issues like gastric ulcers or sore muscles greatly diminish their resilience.

Lack of Training or Socialization

Horses lacking proper socialization and gradual exposure to novel stimuli as foals may continue to struggle with confident, composed behavior as adults. Similarly, holes in early training can perpetuate reactivity and anxious tendencies throughout life.

Separation Anxiety

As highly social herd animals, horses depend on close bonds with other horses for security and comfort. Isolation from the herd and separation from strongly attached humans or equine friends can trigger panic, calling, pacing, and destructive behaviors.

The Role of Calming Supplements

While calming supplements for horses should never replace proper socialization, training, veterinary care, turnout, nutrition, and herd dynamics, they can, when appropriately used, be a helpful component of a well-rounded calming regimen.

Supplement ingredients like magnesium, amino acids, herbs, and B-vitamins work through various mechanisms to help take the edge off heightened stress responses. Targeted nutraceuticals prompt overall relaxation by balancing neurotransmitters, modulating the sympathetic nervous system, supporting the adrenals, and stabilizing excitability in the amygdala and nervous system.

Horse owners must be realistic about what supplements can and cannot do. While they may help horses better cope with challenges, they cannot fix underlying issues fueling a horse’s distress. Their impact is also modest compared to sedative pharmaceuticals. However, when properly matched to the individual horse and used with consistent feeding compliance, high-quality calming supplements for horses support lasting calmness.

Types of Calming Supplements

Some of the most common ingredients in equine calming supplements include:

Magnesium: Essential for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body and transmission of nerve impulses, magnesium deficiency is widespread and contributes to hyperexcitability. Supplemental magnesium supports natural calming pathways.

Tryptophan: This essential amino acid boosts serotonin levels and has a mildly sedating effect. Human research has well-established the calming connection between tryptophan and serotonin.

L-theanine: An amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine has demonstrated anti-stress benefits through increased dopamine and alpha brain wave activity, which prompt relaxation.

B-vitamins: By supporting energy production, mood balance, and metabolic processes, B-vitamin supplementation helps horses better cope with the effects of stress.

Herbal Supplements: Certain herbs, such as chamomile, lemon balm, and passionflower, have calming, anti-anxiety properties. These herbs may be included in proprietary calming blends, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Important Considerations

While judicious calming supplements for horses use can be helpful, owners should keep the following principles in mind:

Consult your veterinarian: As with any supplement, it’s wise to select products appropriate for your horse’s needs and use them under your vet’s guidance. Ensure safety alongside any medications or medical conditions.

Start slowly: When introducing calming supplements, start with conservative doses, allowing your horse's body to adjust. Gradually work up to recommended serving sizes as needed and gauge efficacy.

Quality over cost: Seek out professional-grade products from reputable manufacturers with extensive quality controls, clinical research, safety data, and guaranteed purity, potency, and composition.

Supplements complement management: While helpful, calming supplements should only be one component of an equine anxiety reduction plan focused on wholesome lifestyle management.

Management Strategies for a Calmer Horse

In many cases, supplements support but do not replace the need to address management gaps perpetuating emotional distress in horses. Strategies like the following help mitigate equine anxiety at its roots:

Provide a Predictable and Consistent Routine

Horses thrive on structure and consistency. Establish set times for feeding, turnout, training sessions, and other daily activities to give your horse a sense of steadiness.

Create a Positive Training Environment

Force-based training motivated by fear and undersocialization instills emotional baggage. Instead, seek qualified support to train your horse using patience, empathy, and positive reinforcement.

Ensure Proper Turnout and Exercise

Insufficient movement and confinement lead to pent-up energy and distress. Be sure your horse has abundant turnout, regular exercise, equine companionship, and opportunities to express natural behavior.

Minimize Exposure to Stressors

While complete avoidance of anything causing heightened reactions is unrealistic, limiting exposure to extreme triggers challenging your horse’s current abilities may help prevent cumulative stress burden while working on systematic desensitization.

Encourage Equine Social Connections

Given horses are highly social herd animals, isolation and disrupted relationships take an immense toll. Supportive bonds with other horses are pivotal for security.


Supporting horses to feel settled and secure despite daily pressures should be a top priority for all owners. Minimizing chronic stress promotes emotional wellness and optimizes health, performance, trainability, and general contentment.

A multidimensional management plan that uses calming supplements for horses can help smooth out overly heightened reactions when hypervigilance or pacing in the stall suggests that a horse is not coping well. While nutraceuticals can support resilience, fully addressing gaps in proper training, nutrition, veterinary care, facilities, or herd dynamics is paramount.

Balancing realistic expectations about normal equine stress responses with customized care centered on the individual sets the stage for horses to thrive with less emotional disruption. Paying attention to both visible anxiety signals and subtle signs of distress allows owners to intervene with supportive solutions—like targeted supplements or management changes at the root cause—helping every horse feel more at ease.

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